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Quebec will not invest in Bombardier's regional jet program -economy minister

MONTREAL, June 10 (Reuters) - Quebec’s economy minister said on Monday his government has ruled out investing in Bombardier Inc’s weak-selling regional jet program, which could be sold to Japan’s Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd.

Economy Minister Pierre Fitzgibbon said his government is taking steps to protect jobs within the Canadian province’s aerospace sector, but he will not invest billions of taxpayer dollars to boost sales of the regional jet program which is assembled near Montreal.

The Quebec government previously invested $1 billion for a stake in Bombardier’s flagship narrowbody jet program, which is now owned by Europe’s Airbus SE.

“Is the Quebec government going to invest $2 billion in the CRJ, the answer is no,” he said in an interview at the Economic Forum of the Americas in Montreal. “It’s not going to happen. It would be foolish for me to take $2 billion from Quebec taxpayers to put that in the CRJ program. But I’m working very closely with the company to make sure that we maintain this employment within aerospace.”

Japan’s Mitsubishi Heavy said last week it was holding talks to buy Bombardier’s regional jet program, but no decision had been made.

It is not clear whether the planes would continue being produced following a deal with Mitsubishi. Bombardier said it has approximately 1,600 employees working on the CRJ program around the world, with 40% in Canada.

Reporting by Allison Lampert; Editing by Lisa Shumaker